My code word for all classical music that’s too modern for me is Bartok. My baseline for all prose that seems just too arch and self-conscious to be honest is Sinclair Lewis. For a time, I couldn’t find my way into this novel. It seemed like both DeCapite and his protagonist were showing off. But once I began to read for longer stretches, I think I found the heart of the characters and understood how the language suited DeCapite’s purpose. Paul Christopher, that protagonist, is just a little bit awed by life as he tries to make his transition into adulthood. And he cloaks his uncertainties, as many of us do, behind a dramatic and perhaps, now that I think of it, romantic personae. I was satisfied enough by the end that I want to read another book of his. And apparently his son, Mike, is a pretty good writer too.